Papakura is located on the shores of the Pahurehure Inlet and is approximately 32 kms south of the Auckland CBD.
Papakura is a Māori word believed to have originated from papa, meaning earth or flat (abbreviation of Papatuanuku) and kura meaning red, reflecting the rich, fertile soil upon which the community was founded.
Papakura once served a significant military population, but now only the SAS special forces are based at Papakura. The nearby houses were originally Army Homes, but are now in private hands.
Some notable sports facilities include an indoor-outdoor swimming pool, an international-quality athletics track, a sports stadium, and venues for rugby, netball, cricket, golf, tennis, badminton, soccer, and many other sports. The council also operates a theatre and there are a number of skate parks.